The Suck Fairy

“The Suck Fairy comes in when you come back to a book that you liked when you read it before, and on re-reading—well, it sucks. You can say that you have changed, you can hit your forehead dramatically and ask yourself how you could possibly have missed the suckiness the first time—or you can say that the Suck Fairy has been through while the book was sitting on the shelf and inserted the suck. The longer the book has been on the shelf unread, the more time she’s had to get into it. The advantage of this is exactly the same as the advantage of thinking of one’s once-beloved ex as having been eaten by a zombie, who is now shambling around using the name and body of the former person. It lets one keep one’s original love clear of the later betrayals.”

Where has this term been all my adult life? Simmering in Jo Walton’s brain, that’s where.

“Suck Fairies travel in battalions. Her biggest siblings are the Racism Fairy, the Sexism Fairy, and the Homophobia Fairy. Here, the thing you have to ask yourself is “How could I have missed that!” and the real answer is you were younger, more naive, less conscious of issues that now loom larger. ”

I wish the piece had been edgier, but it’s a must-read, especially if you’re looking to explain a past crush on Biggles, the flying detective.

(Pics from

10 thoughts on “The Suck Fairy

  1. I used to devour Louis L’Amour books and I think I may have read everything he wrote at some point; I still think the Sackett series is great and some of his best work, but the rest just aren’t all that good and they all run together. But it’s usually the Racism & Sexism Fairies that do my old favorites in. I used to enjoy the Piers Anthony Xanth books…I don’t even have to re-read them now to know how much his constant sexism would turn my stomach.

  2. I don’t remember the Sudden series, although I think I would definitely remember that piece of ugliness if I had read it. I recently re-read his “Last of the Breed”…of course the title should be a give-away that it’s not going to be all that sensitive to race issues, but yea, he repeatedly refers to his main character’s “savage” nature and calls him a half-breed. And this book has a modern day setting. It’s a shame, because I had remembered him as being a writer who was somewhat better at handling race then in some of the other appalling Westerns from the same period.
    Another one marred by the Racism Fairy for me recently was “Caddie Woodlawn.” I hadn’t read it since I was pretty young, but remembered it as a fairly good book. I was really appalled at the racism in it towards Native Americans.

  3. @ de Pizan: I just realized it wasn’t Louis L’amour, but Oliver Strange who wrote Sudden. Dang! My brain is evaporating. But they are similar writers in terms of time, themes, setting etc.

    I haven’t read Caddie Woodlawn. And now, not going to.

    Btw, are you Rose?

  4. I knew Sudden didn’t sound familiar! Don’t think I’ve heard of Oliver Strange before, but probably won’t be searching out his books now.

    No, I’m not Rose. 🙂

  5. Oh lovely – it finally has a name – All the Enid Blytons I loved as a kid have been visited by the entire family….suck fairy, racism fairy, sexism fairy..the whole lot!

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